Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2009
This information sheet provides specific information on how to legally export or import pre-CITES products under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It should be read in conjunction with the general information sheets entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products, and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving Australian native wildlife by regulating international trade. This helps to protect targeted species against overexploitation, and also protects Australian ecosystems against the introduction of invasive species.
The Australian Government also works with other nations to protect wildlife globally, by implementing CITES.
In Australia, the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated under Part 13A of the EPBC Act, which is administered by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).
Regulation applies equally to individuals, commercial organisations and not-for-profit organisations.
CITES entered into force in July 1975. It was developed in response to the decline in wild populations of many animal and plant species as a result of unregulated international trade. Most wildlife species have been listed under CITES since its inception. Others have been added as the need has arisen.
The full CITES list, which includes species and their listing date, is available on our web site at www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/lists/cites/pubs/cites.pdf
The term 'pre-CITES' is applied to any specimen that has been taken from the wild prior to the listing date. Pre-CITES (or Pre-Convention) certificates are issued by CITES Management Authorities and certify that a particular CITES specimen was acquired prior to the listing date on CITES. Specimens that have a pre-CITES certificate are exempt from normal permitting requirements.
Pre-CITES certificates are issued free of charge by the department.
A pre-CITES certificate issued by the department will generally be required for the export of any CITES listed item that is proven to be sourced prior to the listing date on CITES. At the time of application, documentary evidence such as photos, purchase receipts, antique valuations and statutory declarations, will be required to prove the age of the item in question.
To import pre-CITES items into Australia you will need a valid pre-CITES certificate issued by the CITES Management Authority of the country of export. There is no requirement for an import permit issued by the department.
What else do I need to know?
It is important to note that certain wildlife products can only be imported or exported to or from Australia if they are pre-CITES. This requirement applies to certain personal or commercial shipments of Appendix I species. Some of the items that can only be imported or exported under Australian pre-CITES provisions include ivory and whale bone products. Australia has implemented stricter domestic measures in relation to elephant and cetacean (whale) products and treats them as if they were listed under Appendix I of CITES.
Importers and exporters should also be aware that under the EPBC Act, any products that resemble regulated wildlife products can be seized by customs officials if they are suspected of being CITES listed products. It is important to be able to give customs officers and other officials an account of the nature and origin of any specimens made of such substances, to ensure that they are not seized unnecessarily.
Exports and imports of wildlife and wildlife products may also be subject to regulation under the Customs Act 1901 (administered by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) and the Quarantine Act 1908 (administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service). These organisations may be contacted through offices in each state capital, or through their head offices:
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
5 Constitution Avenue
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6275 6666
Freecall: 1300 363 263
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6272 3933
Freecall: 1800 020 504
Where can I get more information?
For more information on permits, please read the general information sheet entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products, or contact the department at the address below:
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
International Wildlife Trade Section
GPO BOX 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 1900
Facsimile: 02 6274 1921
The following links may also be of use or interest: